During 2007-2008 the first aerial survey of submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) in North Carolina was coordinated and funded by the SAV Partnership, of which APNEP is a founding member. APNEP also funded and published an interpretative SAV map, which was later featured in the 2012 APNEP Ecosystem Assessment. With a baseline established, APNEP again supported SAV monitoring by funding and coordinating another aerial survey of the Albemarle-Pamlico sounds between 2012 and 2014. The second map is scheduled for release in 2017 and will allow for the detection of trends in SAV coverage for the first time.
Aerial surveys are an efficient means to monitor changes in SAV extent over large areas but in some areas visibility is diminished by relatively turbid waters. Furthermore, aerial surveys can only be conducted once every five years due to funding constraints.
To address challenges in tracking the "hidden" SAV and to detect significant trends more quickly (including changes in species composition), APNEP began coordinating a SAV sentinel network in 2014. The sentinel network combines boat-based sonar and video technology with in-water observations to track SAV at stations dispersed throughout the sounds. The boat-based protocols were tested on Albemarle Sound in 2014 and the first installment of sentinel stations occurred there in 2015.
APNEP lead: Dean Carpenter
CCMP action: E1.1, A1.1